As I write, COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to increase rapidly in many parts of the world. U.S. cities and communities are on lockdown. The entire country of India, 1.3 billion people, has been told to stay at home. By the time you read this, the news may be even more drastic. It’s occurring that fast.
With everything happening quickly, and deaths and new cases piling up, it’s hard to know what to think. We are facing a challenge that most of us have not seen in our lifetimes. United Way was born as a result of difficult times and came of age in the first half of the 1900s as War and Community Chests. It’s part of our DNA to help people in tough, anxious and uncertain times.
We’re picking up our mantle amid today’s crisis. To date, United Way has:
- Helped millions of individuals find the help they need, often by answering questions related to health care, financial assistance and much more. We do this through 211, an easy number to call for direct, caring help.
- Launched a national response and recovery fund, as well as hundreds of local community support funds around the world
- Worked with corporate partners old and new to donate needed funds and goods and services to those in need
- Advocated hard for the U.S. government to provide adequate stimulus funding so charities doing life-saving work could keep their doors open as resources dwindle
I also can’t emphasize enough that we’re far from alone. Nonprofits across the United States and the world are working 24 hours a day to do everything, including get food into needy hands, coordinate relief efforts and push government and business leaders for greater support. People are rising to the occasion everywhere.
The message is this: we’re in this together. A virus like Covid-19 unfortunately affects some more than others, but it touches all of us in some way. Whether by infecting someone we know, causing a family member to lose their job, or putting a friend who’s a nurse or doctor at risk, this contagion doesn’t distinguish.
That’s why, moving forward, I hope we all take stock of how we can individually and collectively make our society a better place. Disasters, as unfortunate as they are, can bring out the best in people. We are reminded of the simple things that make life beautiful: helping a neighbor, embracing our community, putting other’s needs before our own.
We need that now with the pandemic moving fast. But we’ll also need it tomorrow and in the months and years to come. Focus on the present but prepare for the future. It’s the only way that we’ll make our society a more successful, equitable and just place for all.
More to come.